For Jeyifo (BJ) and Komolafe (KK) – Part 2
In my assessment, KK was one of the most severely tested as well as one of the most successful revolutionary cadres of the Nigerian students’ movement in the first half of the 1980s. And, of course, he was also one of the most selfless and most “faceless”.
I remember an episode after the battered corpse of Ingrid was discovered in her flat on the campus of the University of Calabar on Friday, April 24, 1981. (While she was the Secretary of ASUU branch, BJ was the National President and was based at Ife). One of our first reactions was to rush to the motor park to send a message through a commercial driver going to Lagos through Ife, and passing through the front of the University gate. The sealed letter contained just one short sentence: “Comrade Star is dead”. When BJ got the note, he did exactly what I expected him to do: jump into his Volkswagon Beetle car and start “racing” to Calabar. But he was confused: he could not remember if “Comrade Star” was Bene, my spouse, or Ingrid. He only knew who had died when he arrived in Calabar!
Other “areas of RD’s landmark engagements” would include the 1982 deployment of some RD members in revolutionary struggle outside our borders but within the West African region; the struggle both within and around the Political Bureau (1986/1987); the “June 12” political struggle (1993); the struggle in and by the Nigerian Labour Movement – first, in the early 1980s against the Nigerian state under a civilian President, Shehu Shagari and then between mid-1980s and late 1990s against the military dictatorship; and the long and arduous efforts to unite the Nigerian Left and establish a united revolutionary organization.
The Revolutionary Directorate (RD), as a vanguard, was a selfless segment of the Nigerian Socialist Movement and the Nigerian Left. It sought to defend, unite and invigorate the movement and, in so doing, expand the frontiers of revolutionary and popular struggles in Nigeria (and beyond). But RD neither claimed nor asserted its role. It did not aim at becoming a “universal regulator” of revolutionary conduct or “enforcer of standards”. It did not “use” anyone – comrade, compatriot or foot-soldier. It only assumed much more selfless – and often more “dangerous” – tasks than the average, but limited its individual personal consumption to the average, or below the average. RD understood that its effectiveness depended, in part, on its selflessness and ability to remain “faceless”.
If any member of RD found herself or himself in an official position in a popular-democratic formation or even in a state or private institution, such a member regarded the position as a revolutionary posting and her/his official duties simply as a set of minimum demands on her or his time, energy and resources. Beyond that minimum lies a limitless field. In certain periods, any material or non-material entitlements of an RD member beyond the earnings of an average worker went to RD. Indeed, in these periods, RD experimented with complete or near-complete collectivization of material resources, revolutionary duties, and housework (when we were in a rural commune). I learned how to take complete care of babies in RD, with the babies of other comrades. Of course, those former babies are now parents.
The aggregate agenda of RD over the years included: Strengthening RD and its capacity to ensure minimum continuity and expansion of popular-democratic struggles across the country at all times; expanding alliances, collaboration and networking in the national movement of socialism and popular democracy; expanding popular-democratic, empowerment and socialist education among the toiling and working masses and all strata and segments of the population that suffer specific or general oppression; engaging in systematic research, information and documentation and building institutions and centres for this engagement; uniting organisations of popular-democratic struggle across the country; supporting and learning from revolutionary, socialist, popular-democratic and empowerment struggles in Nigeria, Africa, and the world; and remembering, at all times, in everything we do and mobilise others to do, that the ultimate objective is the self-liberation of all segments of the working, toiling and oppressed masses and the march to socialism and socialist humanism.
The most anxious moments in the life of RD which also recorded the most serious internal crises include those that occurred in the 1976/1977 “extraordinary engagement”; the 1981/1982 deployment in ASUU; the 1981 murder of Ingrid; the 1982 deployment outside Nigerian borders; my forced exit from the Political Bureau in December 1986 and my guerrilla-like forced (though brief) re-entry in early January 1987; the 2010 discussions on the need to deal with the legacy of the “extraordinary engagement”, or to “settle accounts” with that legacy – to borrow Karl Marx’s language; and, not long ago, BJ’s anger that I was becoming too sentimental over his health.
Of these “anxious moments”, the most serious were the two major crises that took place during the “extraordinary engagement”. The first crisis led to my arrest and detention by my comrades and the second led to the dispersal of the commune (as constituted) after we narrowly avoided wiping out ourselves. The main cause of these crises, I can now affirm, was that we could not, in practice, consolidate our organization and programme at the level of our revolutionary idealism.
To be continued tomorrow.
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